The Ottawa Senators opened up a lead on the Washington Capitals just over a minute into the game on Sunday afternoon, and brought their A-game to set the Caps back on their heels for much of the first period. But the quick-strike offence of Washington struck quickly once again, as Brooks Laich and John Carlson scored just 45 second apart mid-way through the third period to give the Caps all they'd need to get the win. Jason Chimera gave Washington some insurance a few minutes later, but the Senators couldn't get any closer and dropped a 3-1 result. The Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak, while the Senators lost their second game in a row to start one of their own.
Sens Heroes: Foligno-Fisher-Shannon
Remember this line from our late-season push in the 2008-09 season? Well they got some of their mojo back when re-united against the Calgary Flames on Friday, and continued that solid play tonight against the Caps. Mike Fisher opened the scoring early in the game, but the combination of speed, size, grit, and skill he, Nick Foligno, and Ryan Shannon have when playing together made them a threat any time they were on the ice.
Sens Hero: Brian Lee
The gradual curve of Lee's improvement over this season took a pretty steep jump tonight for Lee. Whether it's his standard late-season push, an effort to prove Cory Clouston wrong for scratching him for so long, or marketing himself for a team that may be more willing to give him a better shot, Lee's improvement is moving him up the Senators depth chart. He was the only Ottawa defender to finish +1 and although he was only credited with two hits physical play was definitely an element of his success tonight (even in front of the Sens' net, where he was actually pushing bodies around and out of the way). And although he was only credited with one shot on net, he set up what was likely Ottawa's best scoring chance in the third period with a slick pass to the front of the net.
Sens Hero: Chris Campoli
After being a healthy scratch for the last two games, Campoli made a statement tonight, especially with some very strong play in the first period and a couple scoring chances early. He finished the night with 20:42 in ice time (fourth highest on the team) and four shots on net, second-highest in the game only to Milan Michalek. When he was scratched, Clouston said he needed Campoli to generate more offence; he didn't put up any numbers tonight, but he was definitely making things happen offensively.
Sens Zero: The breakout
This should be pretty easy. It's hockey fundamentals. But the Ottawa Senators, for some reason, insist on making it more difficult that it has to be. In some situations, the Sens' breakout goes from behind the net into the corner and then to the low winger right in the slot. When it works, it's fine, but when it doesn't, the puck is--you guessed it--turned over in the best place the opposition has to score: The slot. It happened on tonight's game, when a (bad) pass from Chris Phillips skipped over Daniel Alfredsson's stick and right to Brooks Laich. But I've seen it happen too many times in recent games for it to be coincidental; this is obviously a set play, but it's got to be changed quickly for the Sens to stay in games.
Still Struggling: Filip Kuba
Had the least ice time among Senators defenders again tonight. But as painful as it was to watch him in front of his own net, Kuba was actually alright statistically speaking (which had me very surprised): He was even, had a shot on net, two hits, and five blocked shots. I'd love to know what his Corsi number was tonight, because I think it would shine a more representative light on his game, but those numbers show at least a half-decent game.